Le sanzioni economiche funzionano davvero?

CAMBRIDGE – Con i giornali che parlano delle sanzioni economiche occidentali contro la Russia, l'Iran e Cuba, è il momento giusto per fare il punto sulla loro efficacia. Una risposta breve al dibattito sull'argomento è che le sanzioni economiche hanno, generalmente, effetti modesti, anche se possono essere un buon mezzo per dimostrare una volontà morale. Se il loro ruolo nella politica del ventunesimo secolo è destinato a crescere, forse vale la pena chiedersi se in passato abbiano funzionato davvero.

Come osservano Gary Hufbauer e Jeffrey Schott nel loro noto libro sul tema, l'origine delle sanzioni economiche risale almeno al 432 a.C., quando lo statista e generale greco Pericle emanò il cosiddetto "decreto contro Megara" in risposta al rapimento di tre etere di Aspasia. Nella modernità, gli Stati Uniti hanno utilizzato le sanzioni economiche per raggiungere obiettivi diversi, dalla promozione dei diritti umani sotto l'amministrazione Carter negli anni '70, ai  tentativi di impedire la proliferazione nucleare negli anni '80.

Durante la Guerra Fredda, gli Stati Uniti fecero ricorso alle sanzioni economiche per destabilizzare governi ostili, soprattutto in America Latina, ma queste sembrano aver avuto un ruolo minore, anche laddove un cambio di regime, alla fine, c’è stato. Le sanzioni economiche nei confronti della Serbia nei primi anni '90 non impedirono l'invasione della Bosnia e, certamente, la simbolica punizione, da parte del governo degli Stati Uniti, della leggenda degli scacchi Bobby Fischer (per aver giocato una partita a Belgrado, in violazione delle sanzioni) non arrecò alcun sollievo all'assediata Sarajevo.

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